CEO of Jospong Group urges gov't to be bold about banning rice importation
The Executive Chairman of the Jospong Group of Companies (JGC), Dr. Joseph Siaw Agyepong, has assured Ghanaians that with the advent of the Jospong Group Rice Project, the importation of rice into the country will be minimised if not stop completely.
"Where we (JGC) see a problem we confront it and solve it and this project that we have begun walahi talahi the rice importation must end," he vowed.
Dr. Agyepong was speaking at a two-day Ghana Food Security Conference under the theme "Enhancing Food Security: The role of Ghanaian Scientists" in Gomoa Fetteh in the Central Region.
He encouraged the stakeholders particularly rice farmers and scientists not to despair because there are no adequate policies to support the initiative but rather be hopeful that when "fruits begin to yeild", policies will change to favour them.
"Whether policy is supporting or not, never be discouraged, let us do our part and when we begin to yield fruits, policies will change to favour us," he assured.
Quoting former president Barack Obama, he further challenged the government to choose hope over the fear that if it bans the importation of rice, Ghanaians will go hungry but rather be hopeful that the Ghanaian farmer will be challenged and empowered to produce quality rice for the country.
The CEO of the Asian African Consortium (AAC), Mrs. Adelaide Siaw Agyepong who is leading the Jospong Group Rice Project noted that science, research and development have traditionally been the drivers of innovation and productivity and are central to everything done in the world.
According to her, if immediate measures to enhance food production are not undertaken, the cost of Africa's yearly food import might rise from $50 billion to US$110 billion by 2030.
"When there is a food crisis, the poor suffer the most since they are unable to obtain food due to price hikes" she noted .
She said this motivated the Jospong Group of Companies and the AAC in partnership with the CSIR to "perceive" the need to bridge Ghana's food security gaps.
On his part, the Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof. Paul Bosu, was hopeful that the two day conference will chart a course towards realizing Ghana's goal of achieving food security and become self-sufficient in rice production.
"We in Ghana have all that we need to become food secured," he stressed.
He reiterated that the CSIR and the AAC recently signed an MoU to work together towards the vision of helping Ghana to become food secured.
"We need to support government to achieve its objective of feeding the Ghanaian population and earn more foreign exchange, " he charged the stakeholders.
The General Secretary of the Church of Pentecost, Apostle Alexander Nana Yaw Kumi-Labi, who spoke on behalf of the Chairman of the Church of Pentecost noted that, this initiative has come at the right time to help Ghana achieve the Sustainable Development Goal two: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture”.
"While we await IMF assistance, it is critical that steps be taken locally to strengthen our country's economic issues," he noted.
The Church commend the CSIR, whose key mandate is to drive national development and global competitiveness in industry through scientific and technological research, for partnering with Jospong Group.
He noted that the conference is rightly in sync with the 5-year vision of the Church of Pentecost, which has the theme "Possessing the Nations".
"The overarching goal is to equip members who will possess their nations by transforming every worldview, thought, and behaviour with the values, principles, and lifestyles of the Kingdom of God, thereby turning many to Christ'" he mentioned.
The conference aimed at establishing an Inter-Institutional Technical Teams with clear roles and responsibilities to drive the production of selected commodities (i.e Rice, Jute, Maize, Soya Beans, Tomato, Onion, etc), and establish timelines for deliverables.
He added that it will conduct a thorough analysis of the key areas of operations for each commodity including breeding, good agronomic practices, mechanization, innovation etc and develop action plans to address any identified gaps.
The conference brought together Many partners from universities, experienced civil servants from all persuasions and agencies and other partners from Nigeria and Thailand.
Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith